Daily Rituals by Jessica Tremp
Photography by Jessica Tremp at Hotel Hotel.
Photography by Jessica Tremp at Hotel Hotel.
Things we are thinking about,
people we've met and what’s on in Canberra.
WHEN Saturday 27 August from 7PM to 10PM
WHERE Mosaic room at Monster kitchen and bar
WHEN Friday 26th August 6PM to 9PM
WHERE The Mosaic room at Monster kitchen and bar
WHEN Thursday 25 to Saturday 27 August in the PM
WHERE Nishi Playhouse (aka the Fix and Make shed - up the grand stair to the left behind the pink door)
WHEN From Friday 9 September until Sunday 29 January
WHERE National Museum of Australia
WHEN Friday 22 July from 7.30PM to 10.30PM
WHERE Gorman Arts Centre in the Gorman Main Hall
WHEN Friday 5 August and Saturday 6 August at 8PM
WHERE The Street Theatre
Thomas Thwaites did some thinking about the ‘home of the future’. He began with a classic futurism technique of deciding upon two factors, then imagining each factor changing to different extremes.
Thomas Thwaites did some thinking about the 'home of the future'. He began with a classic futurism technique of deciding upon two factors, then imagining each factor changing to different extremes.
So a lot has happened over the course of twenty years, some of it good, some of it not so good, some of it tragic, most of it pretty unpredictable. But, you’re still here, living life, on your way back to your place at the end of quite a long day.
It’s funny that an exhibition celebrating imperfection was in fact rather perfect. Let’s blame the eyes of Karen McCartney, Sharyn Cairns and Glen Probstel for that.
We partnered with them to make the exhibition ‘Perfect Imperfect’ which ran from the 28th April to the 8th May in the Nishi Gallery. Conceptually, the exhibition was conceived to spring from the pages of a new book by the same name by the above mentioned trio. The physical experience of exhibition was like being lost inside the book’s pages – inside a world of mutability, of decay, of irregularity, of accident, of chance – in the most wondrous way.
There were more than 50 objects collected from 26 artists from all over the world. The elusive Alison Coates hung a central, folded, kelp-like work accompanied by sculptures of bone, wood and rock. Jacqui Fink showed several works from her series of extreme knitting experiments. The most impressive was the oversized wall hanging made from the fleece of a 700 strong flock of sheep. The wool was naturally coloured, cut into wide sheets, felted and arm stitched (yes arm stitched) to form a yarn, and then knitted one very large stitch at a time.
James Shaw and Marjan Van Aubel ‘Well Proven Chair’ celebrated the role of accident; its unusual texture the result of wood shavings from the factory floor combining with a bio resin overnight.
The gallery space was filled with a collection of wonky, crackly, broken, warped, uneven table objects from artists including Simon Hasan, Sofie Lachaert and Luc d’Hanis, Harriet Goodall, Nectar Efkarpidis, Alana Wilson and Julian Watts.
The show was stitched together by a collection of large format photographs by Sharyn Cairns of interiors, objects and old and new buildings expressing the perfect imperfect ideal.
So many curious people came along. After the opening, we got to know each other over dinner at Monster kitchen and bar. Like I said. Perfect.
An excerpt from the essay ‘Disturbance, expanse and reverberation’ written by Dan Rule, published in the book ‘Surface Phenomena’ (Perimeter Editions, 2016) by Bartolomeo Celestino.
Bartolomeo Celestino has been returning to a particular section of Sydney’s coastal fringe – atop an otherwise unremarkable set of cliffs in the eastern suburb of Bronte – day after day, year after year, to undertake the protracted task of setting up his 8×10 large-format camera and training his lens downward to the fierce waters below.
There is little in the way of compositional logic or cues that inform the resulting photographs; the Canberra-born, Sydney-based photographer simply directs his camera down toward the impact zone and opens the shutter. The horizon, the land or any other contextual details are absent; the ocean is everything and everywhere. But while the tumultuous, violent body of water that pervades these images has become a site of fascination and a subject of visual research for Celestino, it is his almost religious sense of process and relentlessness of endeavour – his incessant want to return, reset and repeat – that defines and underpins his wider project. These images are photographs of a thrashing ocean, but oceanic or coastal photography they most certainly are not.
These works defy their lurking tropes and resist their constituent factors. The mass of turbulence and white water and the deft flashes of calm that these photographs describe occupy a fundamentally different formal and conceptual space to the iconography of the Australian coast. On the one level, we might turn to the mercurial levels of texture and detail that flood Celestino’s visual language. But on another, his mode of practice might just as proficiently be read through the late Modernist prism of seriality (or perhaps even the monomaniacal). We can only begin to approach an understanding of the nature of our chosen subject through a process of assiduous repetition…
Without the luxury of context – without foreground and horizon – Celestino’s images become loaded with formal, allegorical and interpretive potential. These colour fields might read as undulating lunar surfaces or glaciers lurching and cracking amidst the throes of an increasingly extreme seasonal melt. Another appraisal rises from Celestino’s particular photographic vantage in itself. That our gaze is perpetually pointed downward begins to invoke ideas brought to light by contemporary artists like Mishka Henner and Hito Steyerl, whose exploration of the new visual paradigm afforded by satellite imagery services like Google Earth has prefaced a new – and particularly harrowing – way of observing the world. As suggested in Steyerl’s now famed essay ‘In Free Fall’ and Henner’s meticulously stitched-together Google Earth images, this new perspective is one of someone falling downward. The horrors and turmoil of the Anthropocene rise into view as we hurtle towards the ground. Perched atop the Bronte cliffs, Celestino also positions us at the precipice of this new visuality.
An excerpt from the essay ‘Echoes in memory, object and earth’ by Dan Rule, published in the book ‘Belanglo’ (Perimeter Editions, 2015) by Warwick Baker.
The Belanglo State Forest spans some 3800 hectares of undulating land amidst the Southern Highlands of New South Wales in south-eastern Australia. Set three kilometres to the west of the Hume Highway, around 90 minutes south of Sydney by car, the forest comprises vast plantations of radiata pines ringed by stretches of dense native bushland, rocky cliffs and valleys. It is a popular site for various recreational endeavours, and people from the nearby towns of Berrima, Moss Vale, Bowral and Mittagong use the forest for camping, hiking, trail bike riding and four-wheel driving…
The ground is uneven and rough underfoot. Dried leaves and twigs crackle with every step. A large branch lies slumped amidst knots of shrubs and stooped foliage. We make it to a small clearing that leads to one of the sites. A recently discarded Coke can has been left lying in the dust, uncrushed and perfectly formed. There is evidence of a campfire nearby – a crude arrangement of rocks and scattered fragments of charcoal half-buried in the dirt…
Writing on the ‘horror stretch’ – a notorious length of the Bruce Highway in the Central Queensland hinterland – in his book Seven Versions of an Australian Badland, Ross Gibson forwards the notion of landscape as “an ever-assembling mosaic of cultural artefacts, relics and stories that people have left on and in the ground”. To Gibson, the badland functions as an accumulation of geographical, historical, psychological and mythological constituents.
It is generative and self-fulfilling in its modes and mannerisms – “a paradoxically real and fantastic location where malevolence is simply there partly because it has long been imagined there”. The badland’s burden is an internal one. It disturbs us into identifying the histories that “we wish we could deny, ignore or forget”.
The Belanglo State Forest gained international notoriety as a result of the so-called ‘backpacker murders’ in the 1990s, considered one of Australia’s worst serial killings. In 1996, Ivan Milat, who lived in the outer southern Sydney suburb of Eagle Vale and whose family owned property near Belanglo, was convicted of the murders of seven young travellers, many of whom had been hitchhiking from Liverpool in Sydney’s western suburbs. He was sentenced to seven consecutive life sentences. The partially buried remains of Milat’s victims – who were of German, British and Australian descent – were discovered in heavy bushland within the Belanglo State Forest between 1992 and 1993. The horrific details of the case have been widely publicised throughout the Australian and international news media, and the Belanglo name has, for many, become irrevocably tied to notions of violence and trauma.
Boulders begin to interrupt the sandy earth as we walk deeper. The distant rumble of logging trucks can be heard. There are tyre tracks that come to a halt at the foot of a banksia, a short walk from the fire trail. A casing for a boxcutter blade lies nearby. The landscape becomes abstract, as if a throng of disparate signals. It is oddly, inexplicably tense.
Warwick Baker’s photographs from in and around the Belanglo State Forest point towards our cultural and discursive deficiencies in dealing with the psychological, historical and emotional burden that such a space invokes. More than four years in the making, the project is a photographic meditation on sites of trauma and the psychological and historical resonances of landscape and place, whether imbedded, incurred, implied or imagined.
Baker’s use of aerial photographs, hand-held medium format images, large-format landscapes and still-life photographs imparts this body of work with a forensic, evidentiary and speculative tenor, making use of both traditional documentary techniques and a more lateral and experimental approach befitting the expanded conventions of the ‘new documentary’ movement. His work should also be considered for its engagement, reflection and rethinking of elements of the Australian Gothic, in both the genre’s historical and pop-cultural articulations…
But like much of Baker’s oeuvre – including his portraits, for which he has garnered significant acclaim – these images possess an extraordinary lightness of touch and sensitivity in their thematic wrangling. His perspective and approach to his subject sidles and subtly eschews a conventional photographic vantage and bearing. Recognisable iconography is of little interest, and his defiantly understated photographs elicit the double take. These are familiar images, made ever so faintly strange.
‘Swarm Trap’ is an exhibition of conceptual and functional architectural objects made for one of the planet’s more important species – bees.
Swarming is the natural reproductive process of the European honey bee (Apis mollifier) super-organism.
The goal of a swarm of bees is to establish a new colony in a new home. The queen bee leaves the hive with about half of the worker bees, her daughters, swarming around her. Meanwhile, in the hive they left behind, a newly hatched queen is born and the cycle of life continues.
The goal of a swarm trap is to catch swarms before the bees set up shop in an inappropriate place and the pest exterminator is called in. Catching a swarm encourages sustainable, backyard beekeeping – the more bees under loving management in backyards the better these precious pollinators will be positioned to handle the looking threat of the varroa mite (Varroa destructor) and Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).
Australia is currently varroa and CCD free. Here, we are experiencing a golden age of beekeeping. The 12 objects exhibited are tributes to this good fortune, to honey bees and to sustainable, small-scale beekeeping.
After the exhibition the swarm traps will be installed in the city, suburbs and bush between Canberra and Melbourne in the Spring of 2016.
‘Swarm Trap’ includes works by
Pam Studio x Honey Fingers
We’ll see you there.
Originally written by Emma McRae for our friends over at Assemble Papers.
As an environmental maverick, Tim Jarvis is a busy man. If he’s not undertaking expeditions to the North or South Pole, completing the first unsupported crossing of the Great Victorian Desert, or building an exact replica of the James Caird lifeboat to recreate Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1916 voyage, he can be found doing public speaking tours across the US, promoting his books or documentaries, or working as what he calls “a sustainability innovator” for Arup projects.
When Jarvis undertakes a new project, you can be sure it will not be easy. Most recently, Jarvis has been working around the clock on his latest major expedition and global environmental campaign, 25zero. For 25zero, he has organised teams of adventurers to climb the 25 mountains near the equator that still have glaciers. The project takes its name from those mountains and the fact that in 25 years, due to human-induced climate change, those glaciers will no longer exist.
The project launched during COP21, the UN’s pivotal international climate conference that took place in Paris from 30 November to 11 December 2015 [at the time of writing, a universal agreement on climate change was adopted by 195 nations – an accord not without its challenges, but landmark nonetheless – AP ed.]. Day one of the conference saw Jarvis and his team (which includes Scottish producer, director and camera operator Ed Wardle, mountain leader chief instructor for the UK Royal Marines Barry ‘Baz’ Gray, and Singaporean adventurer Khoo Swee Chiow) standing at the summit of Carstensz Pyramid (Puncak Jaya) in Indonesia, beaming images and video of the two glaciers (Carstensz Glacier and East Northwall Firn) around the world. Simultaneously, a joint British–Kenyan team were climbing Mount Kenya; a team organised by Melbourne-based Intrepid Travel (which includes Peter Holmes à Court and his wife, renowned photographer Alissa Everett) climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania; and a secondary-school team from Colegio Anglo Colombiano (including students, teachers and climbing instructors) climbed Nevado del Tolima in Colombia. In all, six mountains were climbed over the 12 days of the conference. “The intention,” Jarvis says, “is to light a fire so the other 19 will be climbed over time. And that gives us the opportunity to really turn 25zero into a movement.”
25zero has been forming in Jarvis’s mind for over two years. “The genesis of the idea came when I was down in the sub-Antarctic, crossing the island of South Georgia, which is the place Shackleton escaped to when his ship was crushed in the ice.” Climbing those same mountains, the last leg of the Shackleton journey, was something of a personal test for Jarvis, who undertook the Shackleton Epic fuelled by a desire for self-knowledge that he finds through pushing himself beyond his known limits. His expeditions, books and films also serve, of course, to promote his endless passion for the environment. As he climbed the same mountains as Shackleton, Jarvis too had to cross a number of massive glaciers, each several kilometres wide. To his dismay, Jarvis found that the third glacier was now a lake – it had since melted. “I remember thinking at the time [that] it’s such a powerful, visual indicator of an otherwise very intangible problem.”
We humans are evidence-based creatures. For many who live in cities, well-protected from the most dramatic effects of climate change, the urgent realities of our changing environment can seem remote in both consideration and care. Says Jarvis, “The problem with climate change is that you can’t see, taste or smell carbon and for most people it’s too remote and invisible. The problem with the Arctic and the Antarctic is there’s just too much residual snow around and it masks, superficially, the evidence of what’s going on. In the tropics, there is no residual ice and snow around, apart from the ice in these glaciers. Everything else around is either green or brown. So [glacial melt] really stands out very clearly.” Jarvis was driven to do something of profound impact during COP21 that would draw attention to the global effects of climate change. By using these glaciers to illustrate those effects, the project also highlights the fact that many of the worst effects of climate change will be felt in these equatorial regions where, by 2050, approximately five of the estimated nine billion people inhabiting the planet will live.
For the local communities living at the foot of these mountains, like the Dani tribe of the Indonesian province of Papua, or the Bakonzo people in the Rwenzori Mountains of Uganda, the effects of climate change are much more tangible. In preparation for 25zero, Jarvis and his team worked closely with these local communities. The locals, who know their mountains intimately (the Bakonzo porters are descendants of the porters who assisted the Duke of Abruzzi in 1906, the first time the mountain was climbed), have provided guidance and route-finding, and are leading 25zero teams to the base of each mountain.
Jarvis lives in South Australia – a state that, on a sunny, windy day, can get 100% of its energy from renewables. This is incredibly impressive in a country that, as Jarvis puts it, “has been a bit tardy on uptake of renewables”. The South Australian government has contributed financially to 25zero, and with this support, Jarvis really wants the project to bring awareness to people not already engaged with the concerns of climate change. “There’s plenty of preaching to the converted that goes on in the environment movement, so the idea is to try and spread [the message] more widely.” In order to do so, significant time and vision have gone into working out how to communicate with the greatest impact and speed. The climbing teams are using the Inmarsat system to show the conditions at each of the summits through images and video posted on the project website, YouTube and other social media platforms; they also record blog entries that show their location on the 3D geo-referenced maps of each mountain. Jarvis hopes that by circulating tangible and striking visual evidence of the effects of climate change rather than pure data, statistics and opinions, 25zero will combine solid information with emotional incentive – the balance needed to motivate people to take action.
During COP21 and beyond, actively involving the public is a major tenet of 25zero. Anyone who feels up to the challenge can participate in the climbs, either by contacting Jarvis and joining one of the official climbing teams (Jarvis says some of the climbs are technically challenging, “but there’s a good 15 or 16 that most people with some good fitness could have a crack at”), or by downloading the custom-built app and doing an equivalent climb in their own local area. “The app will allow people to climb the hill in the Dandenong Ranges or in the Blue Mountains or Mount Lofty with a team of one, two or four people and their iPhone [the app only works with iPhone 6 and above, which provides elevation support] will measure their altitude gain and keep a running tally of how many metres they’ve gone up. So they can virtually climb the mountains that we are actually climbing.” As you reach certain heights, the app provides information on flora and fauna at those altitudes, on the conditions of the glaciers and also lets people know what they can do, as individuals or as organisations, to take meaningful action. Participants are encouraged to ask friends and family to sponsor them to raise funds that go towards WWF-Australia’s (Jarvis is a global ambassador) climate change projects, some of which are not country-specific, but a certain proportion will support the local communities within the countries where 25zero mountains are situated.
So, 25zero is an expedition (or 25 expeditions) that is also a community-building project, an awareness-building project, climate change activism and, in the future, a documentary. While the project continues beyond the conclusion of the COP21 (Jarvis is adamant about the need for continued climate-awareness action into the future), his focus in the lead-up to the project was on the need for meaningful decisions to result from the COP21 talks. For Jarvis, this includes three main outcomes: a legally-binding agreement, meaningful percentage reductions in carbon emissions that will allow us to stick to two degrees Celsius of warming [the adopted Paris Agreement outlines a more ambitious goal: to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels – AP ed.] and action plans to get us there. Jarvis is insistent that “pie-in-the-sky commitments without any tangible way of delivering them” are not enough. He asks: “How are we taking cars off the road? How are we encouraging electric vehicles? What about solar PV subsidies, what are we doing about renewables? Are we going to decommission any coal-fired power stations over and above the ones that are currently in the pipeline? What is the structural change to the electricity grid going to look like to allow us to deliver on these kinds of commitments? We need to see how these targets that our politicians blindly commit us to are going to be achieved.”
Each year that passes without an international commitment to reduce CO2 emissions brings the deadline for restricting global warming to two degrees worryingly close. The melting of these 25 (plus other) glaciers contributes to rising sea levels (increasing the risk of island nations such as the Maldives and the Torres Strait Islands disappearing under water), changes salt levels in the oceans (affecting marine ecosystems and the survival of numerous marine organisms), affects the biodiversity of the regions surrounding the glaciers and reduces availability of freshwater (affecting farming and electricity).
But Jarvis, as always, is hopeful. Encouraged by a new political engagement with climate change in Australia, Jarvis wants to inspire people to take physical action by “using the technology that keeps people indoors to send them back outdoors”. 25zero has been planned and designed to offer people clear insight on how individual actions can contribute to collective solutions and action on climate change. The path ahead may be uphill, but Jarvis is determined to make it an adventure, inspiring people to climb mountains, even if, for most of us, it is only virtually. “Keep watching the website. And as we call in from the mountain, that’ll be me, as a little dot, hopefully near the summit, puffing and panting my way up the mountain.”
In a medium pot, on low, sauté your onions, garlic and chilli in a little vegetable oil.
Cook until the onions become translucent.
Add sherry and reduce until the liquid has almost all evaporated.
Add the peppers and simmer for five minutes.
Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Carefully slice the skin off the guanciale and finely dice (about 5mm thick).
In a small pan gently render the guanciale until the fat becomes translucent.
To serve place a small teaspoon of piquillo pepper on each oyster and top with warm guanciale and shredded basil, serve immediately.
Our head chef Dan says that really any oyster is good with this dressing but he likes Rusty Wire oysters from Moonlight Flat Oysters for this recipe because they have a nice robust flavour (and they are nice and big so you can put more on there).
Words by Bubble, images by Lee Grant.
I would have liked to put it down to something less superficial but in reality it was romance and good looks that got me interested in tennis.
Though I have known the basics of the game and how to use a racket since I was 12, it wasn’t until 2009, when a friend showed me a book by the French photographer Giasco Bertoli called 'Tennis Courts', that the beauty of the sport dawned on me. In it, Bertoli very simply presents empty courts from around the world; some still functioning and others abandoned, reclaimed by nature as weeds grow through their cracked surfaces and nets’ decay.
When that same friend of mine soon became a housemate we joined Bertoli in this aesthetic appreciation of the court, together taking evening walks through neighbourhoods, marvelling at the beauty of these sleepy sports grounds as they lay in waiting for the next game to be played. In 2013, at which point my friend and housemate had – yes, you might have guessed it – become my boyfriend, I returned the favour and gave him a copy of Bertoli’s second photographic series on tennis courts titled 'Tennis Courts II'. A day later we got engaged.
I’ve never been a good tennis player but I come from a family of them. My mum has played weekly social for as long as I can remember with her friends Joy, Rhonda and Jenny, which I've always thought are names amazingly suited to finger sandwiches and sponge cakes in clubhouses. My elder brother, probably the most talented in our family, reached the upper echelons of our local tennis club in his mid teens. His left handed-ness makes his game an elegant one to watch, which I would do from the sidelines as I was growing up. My fiancé it turns out was also a childhood tennis talent, at one point facing off in a doubles match with his dad against Nick and Mark Philippoussis that he won. It’s a small claim to fame but we take what we can get.
While I have an okay back hand, I can easily double fault my way through entire games and my forehand is so unreliable it’s infuriating. I also have a temper. When things aren’t going well, which they mostly aren’t, I whack balls and drop my racket on the ground, earning me the cute but annoying nickname “Little McEnroe.”
On the first Sunday of this year my fiancé and I unwrapped the rackets we’d bought for each other last Christmas and headed down to some local courts. There’s nothing worse than a couple who exercise together but here we were, ready to take our joined aesthetic appreciation of the game into a practical one.
Since then we’ve played every Sunday at a different court around the city on various types of grass, concrete and clay. Much of what I’ve learnt so far is quite dull and needs to be repeated at a rate that’s frustrating both for me and my fiancé-coach: “You need to be in the right position to hit a good shot, which is why you’re footwork is very important.” “Try and clip the back of the ball or ‘give it a hair cut’ rather than just whack it.” “Remember, the middle of the court is no man's land.” When things do click into place and I hit a good shot he gets excited, and so do I. “You’ve done a learn,” he says.
If I had to choose one word to describe tennis it would be “civil.” When my fiancé-coach explained that having two balls on you at the start of service was an act of politeness to the other player, I realised that in this game, while you’re trying to beat your opponent you’re also obliged to show them some respect. To just think about my needs during the game and not my opponents would be “uncivilised.”
I hope this will change with my fitness level, but what I most look forward to at our weekend tennis sessions is the end. We do a “civil” hand shake to say thank you for the match before gulping down some water. At this point I like to wander around and watch the end of the other games that all the while have been happening around us. The best are the retirees who always play doubles and have become so efficient at the game they barely take a few steps before lobbing the ball back to the other side. Like me, they come to this beautiful thing, the tennis court, not to perfect top spin or work the court but to hit a piece of rubber covered in felt with someone.
Scottie came and took some pictures of our Apartments. He kept quoting 'Rocky' films (yes...all of them...). It was annoying. But he did shoot some lovely views.
Art, Eat Drink, Film, Fix and Make, Live, Market, Music, Party, Talk, Walkabout, Workshop
Love, loneliness and Gungahlin. An absurdist original play about loneliness and human connection set on the fringes of Canberra…
|WHEN||Thursday 28 to Saturday 30 July at 7.30PM and Sunday 31 July at 6.30PM|
|WHERE||The Street Theatre|
Pianist and composer Matthew Sheens is launching his new album, 'Cloud Appreciation Day' - it sources from all sorts of place like West African grooves and 20th Century poetry.
|WHEN||Sunday 24 July from 2PM to 3.30PM|
|WHERE||Ainslie Arts Centre|
The Gaps. "Get a slice of funk, put some blues sauce on it, then slam it between two slabs of rock and enjoy."
|WHEN||Friday 29 July 29 at 8PM|
Leah Senior and Melanie Horsnell and their pretty folk roots.
|WHEN||Friday 29 July at 7PM|
William Crighton and Claire Anne Taylor are making their way in from the NSW bush and the TAS rainforest to rip it up slowly and melodically.
|WHEN||Sunday 24 July from 8PM|
Monster has some new dishes on their breaky menu like Terra Preta truffled scrambled eggs on toast; and spelt and maple granola with roasted rhubarb, berries and whipped ricotta...
|WHEN||Open every day from 6.30AM|
|WHERE||Monster kitchen and bar|
It's all in the name really. Records - rock, funk, soul, jazz, reggae, blues, folk, psych, hip hop and more. Hosted by Moonshine Records and Sugar Sounds.
|WHEN||Saturday 30 July from 10AM to 5PM|
Eat Drink Music
The Canberra Symphony Orchestra are coming back to play us some beautiful music in the Monster Salon and Dining rooms. There are two ticket types - one with lunch and simple entry.
|WHEN||Sunday 24 July from 1PM to 3PM|
|WHERE||Monster kitchen and bar Salon and Dining rooms|
|COST||Two course lunch (main and dessert) and entry $65 / simple entry $15|
A group exhibition curated by Alexander Boynes - 2° investigates climate change, it’s effect on the present, and the struggle to avoid environmental disaster.
|WHEN||Opens Friday 15 July at 6PM, until Saturday 20 August|
|WHERE||CCAS, Gorman Arts Centre|
The photographs of Diane Arbus (1923–1971) are powerful allegories of postwar America. Once seen they are rarely forgotten.
|WHEN||Until Sunday 30 October|
|WHERE||National Gallery of Australia|
Art by a group of American and Australian artists from the 1960s to now explore the complexities of personal relations and individual expression – their work is intimate and raw.
|WHEN||Friday 15 July to Sunday 16 October|
|WHERE||National Portrait Gallery|
Canberra's own world class documentary film festival. Docos about equality, human rights, sustainability, refugees, disabilities, LGBT stories, technology in the modern world and music.
|WHEN||Thursday 28 to Sunday 31 July|
|WHERE||Palace Electric Cinema|
A major Skyspace by American artist James Turrell. It's a beauty - a pyramid, a stupa, a viewing chamber, an offering to and from the sun gods.
|WHEN||Every day at sunset and sunrise|
|WHERE||National Gallery of Australia|
Fresh and seasonal produce that you get to buy directly from the region's farmers.
|WHEN||Every Sunday from 8AM to 11.30AM|
|WHERE||CIT Southside Campus, Phillip|
Works from the new generation of painters from the epicentre of Western Desert art.
|WHEN||Sunday 15 July until Sunday 14 August|
|WHERE||Drill Hall Gallery, ANU|
The first major survey of expressionist painter Michael Taylor’s works - paintings and drawings from six decades, sourced from major public and private collections throughout Australia.
|WHEN||Saturday 9 July to Sunday 2 October|
Large, gold and inflatable, this ambitious project by Canberra artist, Jay Kochel, continues his exploration of the Japanese concept of ‘reading air’.
|WHEN||Until 18 September|
A solo exhibition by Canberra-based emerging artist Anja Loughhead.
|WHEN||Wednesday 13 July Sunday 31 July|
A solo exhibition by Judi Elliott. This body of work is inspired by a description of a life journey and is using Elliott's signature, technical glass styles of cast, cut, fused and assembled glass.
|WHEN||Until Wednesday 27 August|
The sixth in the series, 'Embracing Innovation', looks at innovation in the arts with a focus on craft and design.
|WHEN||Until Wednesday 27 August|
The Scandinavian Film Festival is back. Australian premieres of films from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Iceland.
|WHEN||Tuesday 12 July to Sunday 24 July|
|WHERE||Palace Electric Cinema|
In this focus exhibition Boyd’s self-portrait at age 25 is joined by his portraits of those around him.
|WHEN||Wednesday 4 May to Sunday 14 August|
|WHERE||National Portrait Gallery|
Yoga with a view. Classes are free for Hotel Hotel guests. Just ask for a code at reception and book online.
|WHEN||Monday 6.15PM to 7.30PM. Tuesday 12PM to 1PM. Wednesday 6.45AM to 7.45AM. Thursday 6.15PM to 7.30PM. Saturday 8AM to 9.15AM.|
|WHERE||Level 8, NewActon Nishi 2 Phillip Law Street, Canberra.|
|COST||$18 / free for Hotel Hotel guests (just ask reception for a booking code).|
Food from farmers and producers in and around Canberra.
|WHEN||Every Saturday 7.30 to 11.30AM|
Nishi Art Collective life drawing classes with local artist Meg Morton. Materials and models included.
|WHEN||Second and last Tuesday of the month at 6PM to 8PM|
|WHERE||Level eight of the Nishi building - meet at the bottom of the Grand stair at 5.50PM|
A chance to dance however the hell you want to for an hour and a half on a Wednesday night. No Lights No Lycra are the organisers, DJs and controllers of the light switch, which they will turn off.
|WHERE||St John’s Anglican Church in Reid|
We made a short film, ‘Brutti ma Buoni’, with Coco and Maximilian and U-P that we will premiere in Melbourne to a live score performed by Speak Percussion at Assemble Papers and Open House Melbourne’s Brutalist Block Party this Friday 20 May. Bar opens at 6PM and the screening starts at 7.30PM.
We’ll be screening in Canberra a little later this year.
By Honey Fingers.
We were sitting on the shores of Canberra’s Lake Burley Griffin. It was a typical Canberra day: cool, bright, clear. A stiff on-shore breeze whipped up little whitecaps that lapped against the jetty below us. Aspen Island floated out there, on the other side of the lake, and above its little wood of poplar and willow trees the National Carillon (Cameron, Chisholm and Nicol, 1970) pointed forever skywards. I was nerding on about how cool it was – a concrete-block monument to tuned percussion; 55 brass-cast bells ranging from seven kilos to six tonnes, housed in a bell tower stretching 50 metres tall (daydreams of Arvo Pärt compositions raining down on my picnic blanket and so on).
She lit a cigarette and, after a moment, asked me if I thought the Carillon was a brutalist building. Good question. At the time I mumbled something about it being more an example of late-modernist monumentalism (whatever that is), so the question hung out there for me – somewhere between the little waves on the lake and all those bells; unresolved. I’m going to have a crack at answering that question now.
Brutalism – raw ideas lost in translation
But firstly, some definitions. In English we associate the term brute (Middle French brut, from Latin brūtus – ‘dull, stupid, insensible’) with the tough guy – a monster, a thug. Brutus kills Caesar, Brutus socks one to Popeye the Sailor Man. Brutal behavior is considered rough and savage, cruel and uncivilised. It is no surprise then that the honest and uncompromising use of concrete as a building material, brutalism, has fostered negative associations with buildings that, in the eyes of some, lack a certain humanity, are institutional in scale and often associated with (frequently failed) heroic social projects: mid-20th century English social-housing; abandoned communist bus stops in Eastern Europe; poorly maintained and insensitively renovated University dormitories.
The genesis of the term, béton brut, is credited to French architectural master Le Corbusier. He used it to describe his own material preference for projects such as the iconic apartment block Unité d’Habitation (1952) in Marseille, France. Béton brut translates not to ‘dull, stupid and insensible’ architecture but rather to ‘raw concrete’. The term was picked up in English and other languages, kept its French root, and incorporated into the moniker ‘brutalism’ by architects the likes of the Swiss Hans Asplund (who coined nybrutalism, or new brutalism, in the late 1940s) and thinkers such as Reyner Banham (who used it extensively in the late 1960s).
It’s funny to think about what was not only lost in translation – this idea of rawness – but what was also accidentally gained: the deadweight baggage of its English language associations. Imagine how we might think of this movement differently if, for example, the term that slipped into the mainstream of modern English was ‘rawism’, not brutalism. Raw like expertly prepared sushi; raw like superfoods; raw like bold new ideas. Associated with fresh theories about the honesty and purity of good, raw materials – not some thug-life architecture.
Brutalism, although often associated with English architects the likes of Alison and Peter Smithson (22 June 1928 – 14 August 1993 and 18 September 1923 – 3 March 2003), came to describe a broad movement across decades, countries and political landscapes. And, like so many loaded design terms, there are debates about definitions and the works to be included, or not, in the oeuvre. For the purposes of this brief lake-side story, let’s define brutalism as a series of buildings, built between the 1950s and 1970s, that were often large and imposing (or had that vibe, even if they were small to medium in scale); were often made of exposed concrete, concrete blocks and ‘unfinished’ materials; and had a sense of raw, heavy sobriety about them. They were often, but not always, public or institutional buildings: social housing, universities, government buildings, public art galleries. But the private sector got a look-in too – there are many fancy brutalist hotels and business towers out there.
Contrary to its bully-boy reputation, it was an architectural movement underpinned by some very noble ideas and good intentions. Brutalism was a serious, if misunderstood, giant of a child seeded by the early 20th century modernist movement. And, much like its parents, was similarly concerned with the development of modernist themes: challenging the assumptions of its predecessors (including modernism itself); the use of mass-produced, cheap materials; was forward looking and caught up in all sorts of heroic ideas of progress and an ambitious, social crusade. These ideas translated well into the socialist architecture of Eastern Europe and social housing projects of free-market western Europe. The egalitarian and unpretentious use of humble concrete – as well as its relatively straightforward, scalable and cost-efficient building process – was a welcome development in rebuilding post-war Europe. But examples can be seen on all populated continents.
There was also an aesthetic pleasure in seeing various textures on the concrete walls: air bubbles, expansion joints, even the wood grain of the formwork. The buildings spoke about their own construction methods and architects often played with this to achieve decorative effects. The simplicity of a raw material used in this way was a fresh counterpoint to both the ornamental, historicist architecture of the 19th century and early 20th century as well as the haughtiness of high modernism. Le Corbusier was right – raw was cool.
So brutalism was appreciated for its aesthetics too and for this reason pops up in nice hotels and those temples of free-market consumerism: American shopping malls (about as far away as you can get from European social housing).
Brutalism’s bad rap has, in many ways, come from the association of the poor being clustered in concrete ghettos as well as the various misfires of socialist modernism. We have learned that even the best and most influential architects cannot solve intergenerational poverty, wealth inequality and other social ills via the design of buildings alone. Architects do not manage social policy or the budgets required to maintain these buildings. And concrete requires maintenance to address leaks and the associated concrete cancer. These big buildings also develop a patina over time – especially in the cool, damp climates of Europe. This natural aging process; a process that tells the story of season after season, is not appreciated by all. For many, a weathered facade is a failed facade. For some the sheer scale and wear and tear of these projects rates a poor one star on their eye candy chart.
In recent years, however, a new appreciation of these gentle giants of 20th century architecture has emerged. The architecture of the 20th century is, in heritage terms, a poor cousin to the often lauded and frequently heritage-listed examples of buildings built up until and including the 19th century. This is especially true in the Australian context. So today we choose to rethink and appreciate brutalism – a raw architecture that tells a story about the honesty of materials, of social design, of bold experimentation in architectural form.
Our test case – the National Carillon
So, back to my favourite bell tower, the National Carillon – is it a brutalist building? Its finish – white quartz chips in white concrete – is a little bit fancy. Raw? I’d say medium rare. It is also remarkably graceful and polite for a big, concrete tower – not in keeping with the brooding heavyweight atmosphere of its brutal siblings. It was a gift from the British Government to the people of Australia to celebrate 50 years of the national capital and free concerts are often played there for the people… So that does tick a few social boxes. Its privileged site on a bespoke island has all sorts of overtones of manicured public prosperity, old Empire and establishment however… For me it is a long way removed from the heroic efforts of brutalism to redefine, for example, social housing in the heart of the Empire, London. I love the thing, I really do, and file it right next to brutalism (its big toe definitely crosses the line into brutalist territory) – but, by this test, it’s not a truly brutal being.
And then there are the gum trees…
When she finished her cigarette we wandered over to the National Gallery of Australia (Colin Madigan and Andrew Andersons, 1970). As we crossed the air bridge that connects the foreshore to the gallery – with its bulky, rough-cast concrete balustrade and simple steel handrail – I stopped for a moment and took it all in. We stood on this bridge high among the trees: the smell of gum leaves trailing over the handrail; the familiar harsh chatter of white and pink parrots just up there, in the canopy; the angular masses of raw concrete, streaked here and there by decades of welcome rains and the soft hues of eucalyptus tannins. I thought to myself: now this is brutalism – and Australian brutalism at that. The weeping habit of a eucalyptus; those grey, mottled trunks; a single crescent-shaped gum leaf – they just look so good against a raw concrete palette.
Some misunderstood beasts
Cameron Offices, Canberra (John Andrews, 1976)
Plumbers and Gasfitters Employees Union Building, Melbourne (Graeme Gunn, 1971)
Robin Hood Gardens, London (Alison and Peter Smithson, 1972)
The Economist Building, London (Alison and Peter Smithson, 1964)
Western City Gate, Belgrade (Mihajlo Mitrović, 1980)
Sri Ram Centre for Art and Culture, New Delhi (Shiv Nath Prasad and Mahendra Raj, 1972).